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Dr. Colwell's Remarks


Dr. Rita R. Colwell
National Science Foundation
NSF Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars
Ceremony for 2001 Awardees
National Academy of Sciences

November 8, 2001

Thank you, Norman. [Dr. Norman Fortenberry, Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF].

Good evening and thank you for joining us as we recognize some of the brightest, most innovative teachers in our nation - the recipients of NSF's 2001 Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

First, I'd like to give you some background on how this award was developed. As many of you know, NSF's strategic plan emphasizes the Foundation's goal of investing in people, ideas and tools, and it describes three core strategies:

  • developing intellectual capital,
  • integrating research and education, and
  • promoting partnerships.

It occurred to me that an award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars would embrace these goals and strategies in a comprehensive way.

The Director's Award is the highest honor bestowed by NSF for excellence in teaching and research.

This particular award embodies the high priority that NSF places on promoting the efforts of outstanding scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who are dedicated to advancing the frontiers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

The Award promotes an academic culture that endorses not only excellence in research and education, but also the productive integration of the two.

The Award is designed to enhance connections between fundamental research and undergraduate education, and it highlights the important role of citizens who are informed about STEM.

The Distinguished Teaching Scholars program has several goals. The first of these is to foster the development of intellectual capital by identifying outstanding individuals with a history of substantial impact in both STEM research and in educating undergraduate students, including students who are not majoring in an STEM discipline.

A second objective is to encourage the integration of research and education by providing resources that these pioneering educators can use to discover new ways of attracting undergraduates to contemporary research activities.

We want the awardees to be able to convey the excitement and richness of scientific discovery to students in introductory courses, including students who do not initially plan careers in STEM fields.

Another aim of the Distinguished Teaching Scholars program is to enable instructors to disseminate their experiences and to mentor other faculty who are trying to balance their contributions to science and engineering and to STEM education.

A fourth goal is to promote an academic culture that values and rewards members of the community who contribute to both disciplinary scholarship and the education of undergraduates, including students majoring in non-scientific disciplines.

We also want to promote the scholars' influence and prestige so that balanced efforts in teaching and research by other faculty will be recognized and rewarded.

It's important to mention that Dr. Carl Wieman, the recent Nobel laureate, was named an NSF Distinguished Teaching Scholar only a month before winning the Nobel Prize.

A final goal of the program is to recognize the efforts of institutions of higher education that commit resources in support of faculty who effectively contribute to both discipline-related scholarship and science education.

NSF's Distinguished Teaching Scholars program is committed to providing leadership for developing excellence in STEM education at all institutions of higher learning.

The program is designed to support individuals who exemplify the ability to contribute creatively and significantly to both teaching and scholarly activity and to help those people reach leadership positions where they can effect the greatest change.

Finally, the Distinguished Teaching Scholars program strives to provide exemplary faculty role models who have the freedom and resources to mentor undergraduates.

In closing, let me summarize the academic community's response to the initial solicitation. A total of 68 proposals were received, with seven awardees selected.

Applications were received from scholars who have distinguished themselves in a gamut of disciplines supported by NSF, including Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, Biology, Geosciences, Computer Science and Engineering, and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Now, I have the distinct pleasure and honor of introducing Jack Marburger.

On October 23rd, the Senate confirmed President Bush's nomination for Jack Marburger to be the Administration's Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

This is a position that requires at least two hats. As the Director of OSTP, Jack will oversee the nation's civilian and defense science and technology enterprise. Wearing the second hat, he will be the President's personal adviser on matters of science and technology. Congratulations, Jack.

Jack Marburger is truly a "Man for All Seasons." He was nominated before the events of September 11, when we were a different nation. The announcement of his selection evoked praise from every sector and from both political parties.

Jack not only has the right credentials; he has the right experience for dealing with the unexpected and the unknown.

He is a physicist who has taught both physics and electrical engineering at USC and served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 1980, he became the third president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a position he held until 1994 when he went to Brookhaven National Laboratory. At Brookhaven, he provided exceptional leadership in uncertain times.

His Senate confirmation two weeks ago made those who know him, and those who know of him, feel especially secure during our national trial.

When Jack is at the helm, we can be assured of a steady course and a safe journey. He is a visionary with wisdom, and is a fitting captain to guide the nation's science and technology enterprise forward while steering it always in service to our country.

Please welcome Jack Marburger.



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